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December 21, 2016
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June 10, 2008
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November 4, 1983
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Approved For Release 2008/06/10: CIA-RDP88B00443R001404100131-0 THE NEW YORK TIMES - 4 November 1983 Salvador Rebeis Make Gains And U.S. Advisers Are Glum SAN SALVADOR, Nov. 3 - Leftist insurgents have taken the initiative in the four-year-old civil war, killing more than Boo Salvadoran soldiers in the last two months, capturing 400 and greatly extending the country's con- tested zone, according to United States military advisers here. The advisers said that since the sum- ' mer, when they interpreted a lull in fighting as a sign that the army had im- proved its fighting ability, the,guerril- las had launched attacks against more than 60 towns from central El Salvador to the Honduran border. The fighting since September, they said, has affected nine of the country's 14 provinces. Army's Problems Persist The advisers added that the insur gents often met little resistance from the Salvadoran Army. The army, they said, seemed to be struggling with th same problems that have plagued four Years: low morale over the last i - e t , weak logistical support and divisions among its commanders. Some troops have fled their positions without putting up a fight, the advisers said As a result, the advisers are now By LYDIA CHAVEZ speds,l to The New York Ttmee pivm are making one hell of a chal- lenge. of whom say The advisers, many hey are discourageand anxious to finish their assignments here, have ex- discauragement with the a my'ss inability to overcome its com- mand problems and with setbacks to an operation in San Vicente planned and monitored by the Americans. -The guerrillas have the initiative now, no one can question that," one ad- viser said. Another just shook his head in agreement when asked if he would recommend that on United States more diligently. sueapo In the past, military advisers criti- cized the army's 24,000 men for staying in their barracks and not patrolling the countryside. Now the complaint is that while they are in the field, they are staying in one place and not pursuing the 7,000 guerrillas or setting ambu- shes. The 'army's tactical deficiencies have been aggravated by political ten- sions within the high command. Ameri- can Embassy officials were hoping this week for changes that would eliminate some of the ineffective field and staff commanders as well as some men con- nected with death squad activities. painting a gloomy picture of the coon- But the only changes in orders issued try's military situation. Tuesday were insignificant ones at the They said guerrilla gains had in ef- , junior officer level. to Salva- fect opened a northern corridor from Perhaps most demoralizing o e~... a u .,. silt American ad- September, guerrilla forces had to take oundabout route from their bases in a r the central province of Cuscatldn to Morazdn province in the east. Now they can move virtually unimpeded straight across northern El Salvador. Guerrillas More Mobile Moreover, military advisers said, the guerrillas are more unified, have. better intelligence and are much more mobile than they were before the sum- mer, moving in daylight by trucks lather .+ ? They sure are conducting them- adviser said. selves in a very effective manner," one American adviser. said. --The subver- v sers has been iwo L w" --- istinct which the army showed a dresistence ngness to put up strong and had difficulty in sending reinforce- ments. On Sunday, the guerrillas attacked Tejutepeque, a town of 8,000 people some 37 miles north of the capital. The town was guarded by 180 soldiers, many of whom fled to the nearby town of Ilobasco and changed into civilian clothes, according to military advisers. --A 180-man unit in a defense position should be able to hold- out itfith} they ~h one The problem was complicated when two companies sent to reinforce the troops in Tejutepeque were ambushed on the way. A simfar sitution evolved on Mon- day in Ciudad Barrios n, a towno~~~ in the eastern p The town was defended by some 80 na- tional guardsmen, who fled unwittingly after the attack began headed toward guerrilla territory. ..It doesn't look like there was much effort to keep the place", another mili- tary adviser said. Reinforcements Pinned Down Two companies sent to reinforce the national guardsmen were pinned down by an ambush less than a mile from from their starting point. The compa- cen were from battalion a weeks of eerily returned t training at the new American-staffed I training base in Honduras. Military, advisers are further wor- ried because the guerrillas are slowly encroaching on San Vicente, which has been billed as the make-it-or-break-it example of what the Salvadoran mili- tary is capable of doing. The San Vicente program, planned by American military advisers, was could designed to show that and then p province on while the Gov-the ernment undertook redevelopment programs- improve- There have been signs ment in San Vicente since the plan began in June, but already two towns have been attacked and many of the guerrillas who left before the offensive began have returned. Approved For Release 2008/06/10: CIA-RDP88B00443R001404100131-0